Millions will watch the Kentucky Derby on May 7 in one of America's finest traditions. If you want to make sure you know what you're talking about as you place your bets and drink your julep, read on for 14 interesting facts about the most exciting two minutes in sports.
1. The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously run sporting event in the nation. Though a few other races began before the Derby, there were years when they weren't run. The Kentucky Derby has been run each year since 1875. That's 141 straight years if you're counting.
2. The famous garland of roses is made at a local grocery store. Kroger's floral "master designers" convene the day prior to the Derby to create their masterpiece, hand-sewing 400 roses to the 90 inch-by-14 inch garland. The end result weighs more than 40 pounds.
3. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters. Since the race is only open to 3-year-olds, each horse only gets one shot at the roses in his or her lifetime. With an estimated 21,275 Thoroughbred foals born in the U.S. in 2013, less than one-tenth of one percent of them will make it in the Derby starting gate.
4. Owners must pay at least $50,600 to run their horse in the Kentucky Derby. All Derby entrants must be nominated to the Triple Crown, which costs $600 if done by January, plus $25,000 to enter the Derby and $25,000 to start. This year owner Ken Ramsey missed the two deadlines for nominating so he must pay a supplemental fee of $200,000 and a grand total of $250,000 to run his horse Oscar Nominated in the race.
5. Only three fillies have ever won the Kentucky Derby. Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980) and Winning Colors (1988) each beat the boys to take home the Derby trophy, but no filly has run in the race since 2010 when Devil May Care finished 10th.
6. Kentucky Derby racegoers consume 127,000 mint juleps each year. On Kentucky Derby Saturday and Kentucky Oaks day the Friday prior, the mint julep is race fans' preferred drink. After all, what would Kentucky be without bourbon?
7. "S" is the most successful first initial of Derby horses, with 19 winners. Percentage-wise "Z" does better with a 14.3 percent win rate. The 1923 winner Zev is one of just seven "Z" horses to contest the Derby.
8. The Kentucky Derby is one of the highest-attended sporting events each year. Last year's Derby day attendance at Churchill Downs was a record 170,513. Compare that to 71,088 at the 2016 Super Bowl and 120,474 combined in the entire 2015 NBA Finals series.
9. More than $4 million will be awarded to winners on Derby day. Not only will the Kentucky Derby runners compete for a $2-million purse, but six other major races worth another $2.15 million will be run at Churchill Downs on May 7.
10. There have only been seven undefeated Kentucky Derby winners. Nineteen entered the race undefeated but didn't win, which may not be a good sign for race favorite Nyquist who currently has no losses on his record.
11. People bet $194,271,295 on Kentucky Derby day last year. That number pales in comparison to the $10,676,223,640 wagered on all horse racing nationwide in 2015.
12. A 77-year-old has won the Kentucky Derby. Unlike many professional sports, horse racing has had many successful trainers and even jockeys win the Kentucky Derby and other major races at "mature" ages. Art Sherman trained California Chrome to a win in 2014 at age 77. This year 53-year-old jockey Gary Stevens looks for his fourth Kentucky Derby win aboard Mor Spirit.
13. Three of the last four Kentucky Derby winners were based in California. American Pharoah (2015), California Chrome (2014) and I'll Have Another (2012) all shipped in from in the Golden State.
14. The winner's trophy is made of 14 karat solid gold. It stands 22 inches tall, including a jade base, and weighs 3-1/2 pounds. Churchill Downs says it is "priceless," and many of those who have won it might agree.
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